I don’t normally grow Brussels Sprouts. Why? Because the majority of people in my family profess to not liking them. But this year I had the room, and the seeds and well… one thing led to another.
The upshot was that I ended up with a row of Brussels Sprouts in my Winter garden. They looked happy and were growing strong until about a month ago when the ‘buds’ started to appear. I went away for a week and when I came back I found this. Not tight little round balls ready for harvest but mini-cabbages glued to the side of the stalk.
This is called ‘blowing out’. Instead of staying compacted the sprouts open up like, well like ermm.. Cabbages. This is not what I expected to see. So why did this happen? Is my soil not right? Did I plant them too close together? Should I have fertilised them? What?
There could be a few reasons.
Soil too Loose
I suspect the main reason is that I didn’t firm them in hard enough. Brussels, like Cauliflowers like to be snug so the soil needs to be firmed before planting and pushed in (with your foot) all around the plant. I confess I didn’t do that. Brussels Sprouts get quite tall and when they rock in the wind their roots can snap resulting in ‘blowing out’.
Soil Too Acidic
Brussels Sprouts (like many Brassicas) will fail if the soil is too acidic. We’re aiming for a pH of 6.5-7.5 so lime the soil to correct it. When I tested my soil at the beginning of the season it was around 6.5 but my soil has acidic tendencies and I suspect if I tested it now it would be more on the acidic side.
It’s unlikely that it is the variety I chose. It was Long Island Improved, an heirloom variety. While some F1 hybrids claim resistance to blowing out they would probably succumb given the wrong growing environment too.
So… you live and you learn. That’s what I love about vegetable growing. And, armed with this kind of knowledge, there’s always next year!